Gadamer and the movement of play.

I like Hans-Georg Gadamer’s  philosophy. He suggests there is a movement of play that is essential to all living things. In terms of art is how we look at things. To fully understand getting this philosophy I need to know the definition of three new words hermeneutic experience. Generally hermeneutic means interpretation. “Gadamer’s  introductory discussion of play has deserve special attention because it has laid the groundwork for grasping the process of hermeneutic experience in general” .

The to and fro the nature between the person and the object or other player, I see this part of Gadamer’s philosophy common in many aspects of life. Within art and design the idea of looking a piece of art with the same to-and-fro nature between the object the piece and the spectator person. It’s that interpretation of the piece of the spectator in the act of play looking at details of the object which could be it’s composition colour subject texture and this freedom of interpretation. The object can have the power of play also to be suggestive and directive through these elements spectator uses as tools for interpretation. Therefore as the spectator ,may have the freedom of play or is the spectator being played?

I suggest this because there can be subtle manipulative influences can be misleading as the spectator doesn’t realise that they are part of  game. If that object, art piece or game is derived to influence thought? Quite possibly? But  then the object could be of a source of nature to such as a flower or cloud that one can imagine cloud formations as objects. but then  that’s imagination not hermeneutics. Also that is also to suggest nature is designed to influence our thoughts. Leading to religious aspects of God and hermeneutics. Excuse me as I get could up in this play of thinking out loud as I try to articulate my thoughts and understanding of Gadamer’s philosophy.  I feel like Neo in that scene in the Matrix when the boy says:

“Do not try and bend the spoon, that’s impossible. Instead, only try to realize the truth…there is no spoon. Then you’ll see that it is not the spoon that bends, it is only yourself.”

But that connects with the philosophy of René Descartes and back to the existence, the state of being and God. I could go on but that would take a while.

The nature of play is provocative of action and reaction.  Art is the great form of communication open to interpretation as well as manipulation. However, looking at the theory of play where there are two or more I can relate this to art practice where team can brainstorm ideas , the to and fro of creative thoughts. The freedom to explore the themes through the use of play is important the social development and change. There is a human nature to play, whether we do it consciously or subconsciously, Gadamer states that: play is not something that happens in the mind or the impulses of the subject. “It is not a subjective applicable attitude, but is, rather, an activity that always goes on in between the players and reaches beyond the behaviour or consciousness of any individual player.” This activity is important when it comes to teaching and learning.

I watched with great interest the following video to gain some further understanding:

This is a lecture that is documented as a form of improvised theatrical  play, where the  students were active participants within the lecture. I watched how engaged and how they had become immersed in the activities founded upon understanding Gadamer’s philosophy. The students in the video had become the objects of  playfulness within the lecture itself. By doing so students received more deeper learning through experiential method of being in the moment. Teaching in the theatre design department at Wimbledon I thought this feature to be quite fitting. Scenarios for learning can be explored introducing social activities surrounding play in the classroom. I refer to the thinking through making lesson that I had taught with first-year BA Theatre design students. Whilst making models sets using clay, students became immersed in creating and acting out scenes of their selected theatre play for their characters to reside.


Decolonising the Curriculum

Decolonising the curriculum what does that mean? Decolonising a curriculum is not just about a more expansive reading list to feature text of black Asian minority ethnic subjects and writers.  Although a most substantial start as I have come across researcher Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o who’s book Decolonising the mind lead me to his quote:

Values are the basis the People’s identity, their sense of particularity as members of the human race. Language as culture is the collective memory bank of the people’s experience in history. Thiong’o, Ngũgĩ wa (1986)

Decolonising the curriculum in my opinion is to address these values people’s cultural and racial identities and experience. It is the acceptance to acknowledge respect and apply non-white non-European histories, cultures, arts and humanities has also shaped our globe. This acceptance however takes form in action to physically address and make significant changes. To decolonise in Art and Design also reaches further than the teaching of European white male artists. There is a need to employ the richness of ensuring cultural diversity to bring down the barriers of inequalities. I believe that there is a shift happening. Voices no longer remain in the margins as collectively they have become too loud to be ignored. Now becoming visible.

Decolonising the Arts Curriculum zine is an important and most necessary publication for all students and staff. A collaboration between Hansika Jethnani (students’ union), Lucy Panesar and Rahul Patel (Teaching and Learning exchange, UAL) to invite students staff to make contributions and sharing and rich wealth of experiences explores decolonising arts education. I am happily proud and grateful to be a contributor to this zine sharing hopes for a decolonised arts education.

I was pleased to be invited by Rahul to make a small speach amongst other contributors at the  launch event on Thursday 14th June  at UAL Central Saint Martins. It was an inspiring evening hearing the narratives of the contributors and an honour to share a platform with. The well attendance of this launch signified that positive shift as the dialogue of the evening evidenced the action for change.

The zine can be accessed here: